March 18, 2021

Van Hollen, Brown, Wyden, Menendez Introduce Bill to Protect Stimulus Checks from Debt Collectors

U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) have introduced a bill to protect the stimulus checks provided in President Biden’s American Rescue Plan from garnishment by private debt collectors. 

“The direct payments included in the American Rescue Plan are meant to help families put food on the table and pay their bills. They are not intended to provide a windfall to private debt collectors or predatory lenders. This legislation will protect Americans’ direct payments from these abusive practices right now, as we continue our work to rein in predatory lenders and unscrupulous debt collection practices on a more permanent basis going forward,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“We passed the American Rescue Plan to put money in people’s pockets so they can pay their bills, not to line the pockets of predatory private debt collectors. Our bill would mean American workers and their families don’t have to worry their stimulus checks will be gobbled up by financial predators, and the House should pass it immediately,” said Senator Brown.

“Relief payments are intended for struggling families, not predatory private debt collectors. Our legislation would ensure help gets to the folks who need it to pay rent and buy groceries. Senate Republicans supported this critical protection in the December relief package, and we hope to pass our bill right away,” said Senator Wyden.

“Countless New Jerseyans are struggling to get by during the pandemic and need all the help they can get.  For many families, the stimulus checks are a lifeline to help pay rent or a mortgage and put food on the table,” Senator Menendez said. “No predatory debt collector should be able to sweep in and swipe these funds from those who need it most.  Congress must pass this bill without delay.” 

Maryland has already taken this step by issuing an emergency order prohibiting garnishment of economic impact payments, protecting this critical relief for those who need it most. This legislation would ensure the same standard applies nationwide.